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Reimagining A New York City Block: A Visual Case Study
How Duggal Visual Solutions Helped The Janus Property Company Illustrate The Bright Future Of Harlem’s Manhattanville Factory District
450 West 126th Street – this is where the past, present and future of one of New York City’s most historic communities meet at the Flatiron-esque intersection of 126th and 127th Streets.
“In a city known for its orthogonal grid, it marks a very special place whenever streets or avenues come together, whether it’s Times Square, Columbus Circle, or this very location,” says Scott Metzner, Principal of the Janus Property Company.
Metzner is a fixture and key figure in the revitalization of Harlem’s Manhattanville neighborhood, where Janus is transforming a five-block pocket of abandoned factory buildings into the master-planned Manhattanville Factory District, a vibrant, 24-hour mixed-use community spanning three acres.
Phases I and II of the Factory District saw the completion of the 150,000-square-foot Mink Building, former home to the Yuengling Brewery from 1886 to 1903, and the 50,000-square-foot Sweets Building, both of which are fully leased. Now in Phase III, Janus is converting the former Taystee Bakery complex into a 300,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art commercial hub that will connect to and synergize with the bustling 125th Street corridor.
Building Upon, Not Over
This area’s history is not to be demolished; its cultural significance must be built upon, not built over. From the Battle of Harlem Heights in 1776, a pivotal American victory led by George Washington in the Revolutionary War; to what an 1885 New York Times writer described as the “almost rural surroundings” of a 19th century industrial hub; to urbanization and the blossoming of African American culture in the Harlem Renaissance, Harlem’s past is momentous. Its people are the heart and soul of a community in flux.
With roots in these streets dating back 20+ years, the Janus Property Company knows the delicate nature of redevelopment here. As the largest private non-institutional owner in West Harlem, they understand the importance of their role in both preserving the neighborhood’s past and planning its future.
As development of the Taystee Building gets underway, Janus called on Duggal Visual Solutions to transform a neighboring raw space at 439 West 127th Street into a visual showroom and presentation center. Over the course of six months, the collaborative creativity and expertise of Janus and Duggal was on full display, piquing curiosity in passersby en route to the grand opening of a dazzling meeting ground for all things Taystee.
Phase I: Consultation
Duggal visual consultant Agata Renault met with design architect LEVENBETTS to discuss their vision for the 1,055-square foot space adjacent to Janus’ headquarters and facing the development site for the Taystee Building. While analyzing the floor plan and designer’s sketches, Renault offered a variety of material and substrate samples to begin the conversion of vision to visuals.
Phase II: Site Surveys & Tests
After determining the scope of the project, Duggal and Janus moved forward with a series of site surveys. Duggal installation experts accompanied Renault on several visits in which they examined the interior of the space for potential challenges, from fixtures, beams and flooring to windows, walls and lighting. Maintaining the character of the space was crucial in visually conveying Janus’ commitment to preserving the neighborhood’s integrity.
Renault consulted further with the Janus team to begin creating a graphics blueprint for the space, coordinating preliminary on-site test installations for evaluation throughout the process. This allowed Janus to see and feel site-specific solutions at their convenience prior to entrusting Duggal with the project.
Phase III: Precision Cut, Heat-Transferred Vinyl
The first installation required absolute precision in decorating the back wall of the space. Duggal’s in-house production team executed an astoundingly intricate design on CAD Cut vinyl, which was installed through a delicate heat transfer process. By melding the graphics to the wall, Duggal was able to negate surface and texture imperfections that could have otherwise caused peeling, cracking and warping. Coupled with the sheer skill of Duggal’s craftsmen, Renault’s vast knowledge of materials and substrates proved vital to a successful install.
Phase IV: Dual-Purpose Window Graphics
Floor-to-ceiling glass is a prime asset to any commercial space. To capitalize on this space’s towering doors and windows, Duggal reproduced the official Taystee Building branding on vinyl window film. Bold buzzwords and landmarks nod to the neighborhood on the exterior, while an expertly formulated level of opacity provides subtle, unobtrusive privacy and soft natural lighting to the interior.
Phase V: Gallery Artwork and Supporting Imagery
At this phase, the transformation gains momentum.
Gorgeous images and renderings of the future Taystee Building and surrounding area lead visitors through a gallery-style exhibition along the east-facing wall. Installed with sleek Arakawa Hanging Systems technology, the backlit matte pieces hang almost invisibly at eye level, limiting glare and literally bringing viewers closer to their prospective new office or shop across the street.
A seamless, creaseless, double-sided banner serves as a patterned backdrop for business meetings and interviews, while a large “TAYSTEE” wordmark anchors the foreground of the space.
Phase VI: Finishing Touches
As the Janus team began furnishing the space, Duggal delivered a finishing touch. Bringing the project full circle, two custom glass panels printed direct complement the back wall, where the project began months prior.
It All Starts Here
Nestled between the beautiful West Harlem Piers, prestigious Columbia University, legendary Apollo Theater and iconic Sylvia’s Restaurant, the Taystee Building is the next big thing in Harlem.
It all starts here, 439 West 127th Street, a visual representation of things to come from Janus and the official headquarters for Taystee news, events, happenings and consultancy.
Duggal Visual Solutions congratulates The Janus Property Company on all of their success and thanks them for bringing us aboard their multi-faceted team of experts.